The day I posted on Instagram and Facebook that I was taking a break from social media, was the same day I mustered up the most social courage in my life.
Despite what many people think, on the introvert to extrovert scale, I fall closer to being an introvert. Being constantly social can drain me, and sometimes I get quite fearful of small talk and have been known to physically run away to avoid it (in some rare instances, anyways).
A few weeks ago I was invited to a Rotary Club of Oakville meeting by one of it’s members. There was going to be a speaker presenting that I was very keen to see, and after meeting with this Rotary Member for coffee I felt confident going to a meeting with her to watch this presentation.
A week or two before the meeting, she advised me that she would not be attending the meeting but I was still welcome to go if I wanted (I am not a Rotary member). I pondered this proposition for a bit, but she had offered to introduce me to two other Rotary members over email, so that I could feel comfortable with (at least) their names. I forced myself to accept this invitation, even though it made me completely nervous, because I knew it would be a great opportunity to meet people and learn.
The meeting time was from 6pm-8pm. Brandon advised me that there is probably networking at these meetings before they start so I would do well to get there early so that I can start introducing myself. I got to the venue at 5:45, walked into the meeting space and noted that apart from the organizer of the meeting and the presenter, I was the first person there.
I was COMPLETELY mortified.
Now typically, my fail safe is my phone. I mean, whenever I don’t know what to say in a social setting or don’t know anyone I start looking at my phone and scrolling through social media. In this particular instance, I had just made a promise to stay away from social media, and it would look so awkward me sitting in the corner scolling through my phone. So, I went up to the 3 people that were in the room, introduced myself, and forced myself to be the best conversationalist I could be. Then, more people started coming in, and I introduced myself to them…and then… people started introducing themselves to me!
Before I knew it I was having meaningful conversations with complete strangers. I found out about gaps in modern day volunteer work, heard about wonderful european adventures, and learned about providing healthcare in the north.
I totally attribute my willingness to have these conversations to my break from social media. Had I have not been on a social media break, I probably would have spent the majority of the rotary club meeting scrolling through Facebook, and trying to avoid awkward introductory small talk.
Over the next 2 weeks of my social media break, I talked to (and even saw) more of my friends than I had in weeks. I also became much more willing to have conversations with people in general, because I didn’t have social media to fall back on when things became awkward.
I think this story speaks to a shifting culture from in person interaction to online interaction. I treasure some of the relationships I have made through social media sites (including meeting my husband!), but there is no replacement for in-person interaction. To see body language, hear a person’s tone, and feel the ambience of a social environment are irreplaceable for the human spirit and can connect you to people in ways that social media just can’t.
In the end, quitting social media actually made me more social. Weird, right!?
Stay tuned next week to find out what completely unexpected occurance happened to me when I quit social media for two weeks!